Donor Surveys to Boost Fundraising Revenue at your Next Charity Auction

Nonprofits are always looking for ways to improve their fundraising auctions so they can raise more money, and one of the best places to start looking for ideas is to survey your existing donor base. 

Surveys are a free and simple way to get feedback from your donors and learn more about their values and preferences. The information you receive can be used to develop everything from what type of event to host to the items you include in your live and silent auctions.

How do I create a survey?

Before you survey donors, consider the best way to reach your specific audience. Surveys can be done in many ways, such as over the phone, through snail mail, in person or via email. They can be comprehensive and cover many topics or be as simple as a single question.

One of the most popular ways to survey your database of contacts is an online questionnaire sent via email. Questionnaires allow you to reach as many donors as possible efficiently and quickly. There are many free online sources that provide clear, easy-to use templates for you to work with. is one such resource that we use at Winspire to survey our Nonprofit customers as well as every winning bidder when they return from their Experience.

What should I ask?

Start by asking yourself what you would like to know about your donors. Questions like “Why do you contribute to this organization?” are fairly standard survey questions, but you can dig deeper. Try to frame your questions in a way that will give you concrete feedback that you can use to improve your next event.

For example, to improve your fundraising auctions, you could use a survey prior to the procurement process to discover what type of charity auction items would perform best at the event.  Auction items should always be acquired and presented with your audience in mind, so why not just skip the guessing game and ask them directly what they want to bid on?

You can choose whether or not to make a survey anonymous, which depends on what you’re hoping to do with the information you gather. You can gather information from specific donors if you are trying to identify their preferences and cater future offerings to their interests. Anonymous surveys, on the other hand, are better if you are collecting general demographic information or looking for truly honest feedback. 

Following are some topics and specific questions you can ask on your surveys:

Demographic info

  • Age
  • Family information (married, kids, etc.)
  • Income
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Number of charity events attended per year (overall – not just yours)

Event Feedback

  • Overall event
  • Frequency of events
  • Auction items offered
  • Checkout process
  • Presentation of items
  • Auctioneer
  • Décor
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Invitations/Pre-event promotion

Auction Item Offerings

  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Favorite travel destinations
  • Favorite auction item categories
  • Past items bid on
  • Feedback on past auction items
  • Input for future items
  • Spending budget for charity events

Nonprofit Cause/Mission

  • Purpose for donating
  • Quality of communication with supporters
  • Methods for donating
  • Etc…

This list is not comprehensive. You can certainly expand and create more questions tailored to your organization – in fact, you should!

You can use your survey to ask just about anything. Try to think of questions that will give you the information you need to develop your relationship with donors, improve the experience at your charity events and ultimately increase how much money you are able to raise.

Donors will appreciate you taking the time to learn more about them because you’ll be able to develop fundraising events that they enjoy attending.

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